feeling conflicted

when i was in junior high, my older sister, lori, went on a mission trip to quetzaltenango, guatemala (the second largest city in guatemala). this provided me with my first impression of guatemala, primarily from her reports, but reinforced by the quetzaltenango pennant she brought me as a souvenier, and that hung on the wall in my room for the next few years. overall impression: poor, needy country

in college, one of my roomates was really “into” the political struggle in guatemala, and came down and spent some time here. further impressions were added.

a few years ago i met junior (the director of a very large and progressive christian schooling system here in guatemala) who helped me understand the culture here to a greater extent. and i met manny (who came to our event in argetina a few times and really connected with yaconelli), who is a wealthy guatemalan (he owns a collection of stores, and the guatemalan distribution rights to brands like CK, Hilfiger, Guess, Polo and others). manny is an amazing, gifted, godly and humble guy who is passionate about serving god and about his country. but he’s rich, in a highly poor country.

early stages of inner conflict set in.

last night, we had dinner at the home of one of the wealthier families in guatemala (their son-in-law is one of the volunteer organizers of our convention). their home is absolutely stunning, and the grounds of their home are better-homes-and-gardens lavish. stepping into the home made me extremely uncomfortable.

then, i experienced their hospitality (which could only be described as warm and freely-given), and witnessed their humility and spiritual passion. notch up the inner conflict: how does a person live in a house like this and have this much money in a country with so many poor, while still maitaining a passionate pursuit of the christ who loved the poor.

of course, forming that judgmental question in my mind brought on the REAL inner conflict: how do i live in the house i do and have the money i do, and live in a country (and world) with so many poor, while still maintaining a passionate pursuit of the christ who loved the poor.

6 thoughts on “feeling conflicted”

  1. great comments, marko

    a thought: do you feel the same tension when you meet with affluent christians in l.a., san diego or detroit, places where abject poverty looms close by to the mansions that gate them off

  2. at times i do, bob — but it caught me a bit more off-guard here. since all my perceptions of guatemala were of the poor (until i met the guys who came to our agentina convention). certainly, not everyone at the convention here in guatemala is rich — far from it. most can barely afford the event, even though it’s a fraction of the cost of a YS event in the states. i’m used to the disparity in the states (read: numb). but there’s pretty much no middle-class here — just rich and poor. so the gap is so much more clearly pronounced. plus, we have this pervasive idea in the states (of course, often not actually true) that anyone can really make it if they apply themselves. and that is just so clearly NOT true here.

  3. what a great insight, buddy:

    anyone can really make it if they apply themselves

    so much of the american dream – hell the american gospel – is bound up in that

  4. Mark I only wish more people would be as frank as you were with your last statement.
    Your introspection towards a global understanding of Christ is something that is long forgotten or even admitted here in the states.
    Truly this is why God has called you to minister to people through your role at YS.

    Keep pushing the life that is uniquely Christ and Christ alone!!!

  5. marko,
    i’ve always noticed that in hispanic countries… here in the states, people get rich and move to richer communities… in mexico and ecuador (the 2 hispanic cultures i’ve experienced), the wealthy families seem to stay right in their areas.. the barrios that i work in in mexico are crazy, you would be walking around the worse poverty you’ve seen, and then you’ll bump into a 3 story house (painted some crazy color)…
    You see the lines between rich and poor with so much clarity…

  6. I am looking at home schooling htis year for my eldest of four, and was wondering what connections you have here in Guatemala in this field?

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